We are excited to share that Green Economy Canada and Quebec Net Positive have been working together for the past few months to explore the value of Green Economy Hubs in Quebec to accelerate the business transition towards a vibrant and inclusive net-zero future.
As part of this work, we engaged over 140 key stakeholders across one provincial and four regional roundtables to discuss the barriers businesses – especially SMEs – face in integrating sustainability into their operations. These barriers include a lack of knowledge, lack of tools, lack of regulatory pressure, as well as a shortage of general labour. The discussions revealed that while many companies have a strong desire to reduce their environmental impact, more support is needed to help them set and meet greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction targets.
Our report, Trait d’union – Rapport synthèse des consultations, outlines key findings from the roundtables and these findings mirror what we see broadly across Canada as gaps and opportunities to better engage businesses on climate action. These themes include:
- SMEs are not actively preparing for the accelerating transition to a low-carbon economy – Stakeholders shared that very few SMEs have completed a GHG inventory or know their major emission sources. In addition, they felt that the overwhelming majority of SMEs are not currently equipped to address their climate risks and seize emerging business opportunities.
- A number of barriers exist for SMEs to take action on climate change including a lack of knowledge and accessible tools, a lack of regulatory pressure, a general shortage of labour, and the on-going pandemic recovery – These factors create an operating environment that makes it difficult for SMEs to prioritize climate action, to know what steps to take to reduce their emissions, and to integrate a climate lens into their business strategy and operating decisions.
- Government GHG reduction targets set over a long-term horizon (2030-2050) are difficult to translate into short-term goals for an SME – The majority of SMEs are not currently setting their own GHG reduction targets and do not know what actions to take to align with meeting long-term community, provincial or national goals. They also do not know whether their broader value chain is aligned with supporting a well below 2 °C level of global warming.
There are many opportunities to strengthen the cohesion and availability of support across the business ecosystem to better meet the needs of SMEs – Many sustainability service offerings from experts, consultants, and funding bodies are aimed primarily at large companies and are offered more or less independently of one another, each with their own vocabulary and criteria. While, in theory, businesses have no shortage of doors to knock on, it is difficult for SMEs to access resources tailored to their particular needs.